tv Tavis Smiley WHUT December 29, 2010 8:30am-9:00am EST
tavis: good evening. from los angeles, i am tavis smiley. tonight, our conversation with legendary musician and producer quincy jones. the 27-time grammy winner is the most nominated grammy artist in all of music. in addition to a new book, he also has a new album which features a who's who is -- a who's who of artists. it is called "q: soul bossa nostra." our conversation with quincy jones, coming up right now. >> all i know is his name is james, and he needs extra help with his reading. >> i'm james. >> yes. >> to everyone making a difference, you help us all live better. >> nationwide insurance
supports tavis smiley. with every question and answer, nationwide insurance is happy to help tavis improve financial literacy and remove obstacles to economic empowerment one conversation at a time. nationwide is on your side. >> and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. [captioning made possible by kcet public television] tavis: always pleased to welcome quincy jones to this program. the iconic musician, composer, all around renaissance man is as busy as ever. in addition to a new book, "q on producing," he also has a new
>> i am doing well. you are looking good. tavis: i cannot keep up with you. this short, the fabric, this is so nice. >> this is mandarin. i am studying mandarin and arabic. 18 languages. it is fun. i can't even speak english. tavis: how did you become such a citizen of the world? >> you know, the truth? it is probably because i never had a mother. i made a deal very early, my mother was taken away in a straitjacket. it 12 languages, boston university. strait jacket, seven years old.
my second mother of was it like precious. i made a deal with myself that if i did not have one, i would use music as my mother. who knows if i had a proper upbringing if i would've been a musician. tavis: what is amazing about this story, they take away your biological mother, literally in a straitjacket. your second mother was like the precious character, the character that monique plays in precious. the body who knows you know is that you are the sweetest, most gentle, kindest person. i am wondering how you got that when you did not die from your mother. >> i don't know -- when you did not get that from your mother. >> i don't know.
my father had eight kids, $65 per week. he was always working so hard. you just figure that out. you have to figure it out. you don't have a childhood, really. from the time we were born in chicago, daddy worked building homes, he was a master carpenter for the jones boys, who were the most notorious black gangsters in america. they had a racket with the first black businesses, five and dime stores. i am going to do a movie on it. the first 10 years of my life was that. harriet is drawn from one of the sweetest ladies i have ever met in my life. when i was 5, she asked me to cut her hair. i cut all of her hair off. my father kicked my butt. he said, the know who her father
raise? she is the most eloquent person in the world, exchanging stories. life is amazing. tavis: take me back to chicago and seattle. how did music become your mother? how did this relationship forged? >> in the 1930's, the jones boys made $100,000. in 1943, the capone guys ran him out of chicago to mexico. my daddy came to the barber shop and took me and my dad on the bus the next day to the northwest, to go to bremin tin shipyard. we were joneses, too, but not related. we wanted to be gangsters. we burn down dance halls and everything. stealing cases of honey.
i drank four bottles of honey. i never drank cont again for 20 years. and we broke into this army one night, during world war ii, and the army campus across from us with the barbwire and 50 caliber machine guns. we broke into the armory. we heard that i screamed and ran pie was coming in at 11:00. -- we heard that ice cream and pie was coming in at 11:00. after we eat it, we broke into rooms. i broke into a room and there was a piano. thank god, i was not stupid, and i listened to god's whispers and touch the piano and that is what i have done the rest of my life. damage your being mischievous. -- tavis: you were being mischievous. >> my stepfather was a full- fledged gangster.
tavis: burning down dance halls and bumped into a piano. >> that is right. that saved my life. from then on, no more sports. i started planning to buy, sousaphone, baritone, french horn, trombone so i could be next to the girls and a marching band. i was practical. i wanted to play trumpet, but that was way in the back. concert band, played trumpet. tavis: marching band, but by the girls. >> that is right. tavis: there is so much to talk about. every time you are on, i don't feel like a scratched the surface. to this new book, "q on producing," a lot of people have been waiting for you to write this. if there is anybody in this business who you want to emulate as a producer, this is the man.
what will i learn about how to be a great producer from quincy? >> what do you want to be a producer for, man? tavis: the short answer? i learned this from year -- because that is where the money is. >> that is true. if it starts. tavis: if it ever starts. >> if it does not start, it will never stop. you are crazy, man. tavis: just to prove that, i will come back to this cd. this is a tribute to the hip-hop industry. they have done a cd in tribute to quincy. you know whose music they are doing in tribute? quincy's music. they have taken and, put their own spin on it. back to the producing thing, what is the trick?
>> at the time, i was an arranger. i did not get paid one cent in royalties. i did not know what a producer was. rangers are doing mostly what producers do. they come from engineers, singers, songwriters. there are no rules and any of this stuff. i just stayed in the studio all of the time. i was lucky enough to do a whole lot of shaking going on and donna washington and james moody, god bless him, he started me off. it was new york. if you make it there, it could make it anywhere. it is rough, but that is the school you want to come from. tavis: do you think that he became good at this by just staying in the studio or were you just gifted? >> i must say this, you may have
a gift, but music and mathematics are absolutes. the difference is music is the only thing that engages left and right brain simultaneously. the intellect and the emotion are there all the time. if you don't study your science , the motion is limited. i have seen a lot of people, a wreath, marvin gaye, -- aretha, marvin gaye, they know their jazz roots. i said i want to go all the way. she was funny, she said it is too late to choose like a classical musician because she had been around ray charles too long. i was working clubs at 13. she said jazz musicians are strange because they shack up with music first, then they
marry it later. without the signs, -- without the science, how would go all the way. no kind of music scares me. duke ellington, why does he put the person on second tenor sax? the orchestration and arranging was just part of my soul all my life. >tavis: how aggressive are you impressing that message to all of these young folk, that you have to get outside of your comfort zone and learn at all? expose yourself to all of it? >> we have had a hard time. but now we have to organize it and really have an organized basis. a lot of people, david baker, herbie hancock, all the universities. all of these musicians are
putting together a curriculum. we are the only country in the world that does not have a minister of culture, the only country, and the most loved music on the planet. everywhere i go in the world, we hear it. tavis: what do you make of the fact we do not have a minister of culture and everybody else in the world does? >> i don't know. i have a clue, but i will say that later when we get the curriculum going. we have had four meetings and it has almost multiplied every time we have had a meeting. it is going to happen. the real thing about how this music came about, because of the spanish inquisition, all the influences, everything. it is astounding. i spent 35 years on it. tavis: back to the cd, bouncing around, forgive me.
quincy has a much product. the new cd, "q: soul bossa nostra," i cannot do justice to all of the names. everybody is on this. tell me about the product when it feels like everybody in the hip-hop world wants to do a project to celebrate you? >> what feels good about it to me, they started this a few years ago. what is good about it is all of this goes to my foundation. every one of them, the earphones, everything, that is from my foundation. these are my babies. you know i have some babies. tavis: i know you have a few. you mentioned the headphones. you have so much product. when you buy a set of headphones that quincy jones has put his name on, what am i hearing? >> you are hearing the best
songs you ever have in your life. i have been involved in this almost 40 years, since akg, jbl speakers in my studio. it was a natural alliance. all of this stuff is the best. i don't know how all four of them get together because they wear me out. tavis: up on the screen, just glancing at the monitor, i see a promotion for a prime-time splasher -- primetime sent special. here we are in conversation, talking about classical music. in this conversation pops the name quincy jones. i cannot talk to anybody without your name coming into the conversation.
>> he is something else. he is 28 years old. and he could be a movie star and a dancer. he does everything. the biggest hard, and humility. -- the biggest heart, and stability. he has humility with his talent and grace with his success. tavis: everybody i talk to all around the world has met you, done something with you. how was it that you connect with these people before the rest of us hear about them? how'd you know people before he becomes the rage as the conductor of the l.a. philharmonic? >> he saved 300,000 kids from gangs with his organization. he had them playing clarinets and violins and everything. his director was the one he really started this system.
and is building, spreading all over the world. we have piano's from -- we have a pianist from cuba now. he is writing a piece for gustavo now. tavis: speaking about switzerland -- >> he is on the show? tavis: it is all about him. is about him and his program. the question we wrestle with is, what is the price our country pays for abandoning music education for our kids? he comes from a program that gives to the world. what is the price that our country is paying for abandoning music education for kids? >> number one, being labeled isolationists. i travel more than anybody on
the planet, i don't care who they are. you know what i am saying. you have to go to know. i was lucky to go at 19 years old with lionel hampton, playing trumpet. he said, young blood, step into my office. let me pull your coat. that was step over here, i want to give you some knowledge. everywhere you go in the world relates with lionel hampton. eat the food that the real people eat, listen to the music they listen to, and speak 30-40 words in every language. what i was younger, that is why i it realized you have two years and one mouth. -- that is why you have to ears and one mouth. you are supposed to listen twice as much as you talk.
you enter the culture not dragging your culture with you. i feel at home with everybody in the world. everywhere. tavis: when we were in switzerland a couple years ago, were you were being honored at the jazz festival, this group performed a tribute to you. next thing i know, you have them signed up. there are amazing. we had them on this show. >> they are fantastic. they are into mime, the imagery -- they imitate or distress. that album, there are no instruments on it. they imitate everything. they are incredible, the new wave of hip-hop. tavis: we have talked a number of times since then. this is the first time you have been back since michael passed away, just over a year ago now.
the first time since he passed away. you still think about him? >> he is in my soul. the relationship with an artist and producer is stronger than anything that you can imagine. it starts with love, and then there is trust. tremendous trust. because all you care about is that they are presented in the best possible way. that is all that a producer should care about. everything, the album cover, everything. the right musicians, the right temple, everything. babysitter, psychologist, everything. you have to know when to push, or when it is time to take a break and shoot some pool. it is a very complex thing. you have to get into it to know what to do. it is very personal, and there is no formula that works on everybody. everybody, you need to know
their range. there were some things that we wanted to try on the "thriller" that we had not tried before. it is a process. you pay attention more than anybody i know, to everything. tavis: i try. when the movie is down about your life and legacy, how do you know what the pinnacle is? is it michael? is it frank sinatra? is it dizzy gillespie? you have done everything with everybody, twice at least. >> there is no pinnacle. it is too different, from aretha franklin, ray charles, ll, duke. there is no panicle. -- there is no pinnacle.
i would say the most influential people in the last 50 years of american music. that is something, i don't know how it happened, because you cannot plan that. you cannot make that happen. you have to just do what you know what to do and hope that somebody says dewitt with me. it -- and hope that somebody says do it with me. it is like with fright, and paris, i was the musical director for their records. somebody called and said mr. sinatra wrote once you to bring the whole house down, 55 musicians, to monaco for a sporting club for a fund-raiser for sinatra. i did not even know him. it was like a dream for an arranger. we went down, i got a call one day. the first guy to call me q -- q, i heard that phrase in that you did for count basie.
it was a waltz. he said i like the one that you did. in 4-4. would you consider doing an album with me and count basie? i said, man, are you kidding? you better believe it. i worked with him from 1964 until he left. his daughter gave me this boring. this is his family crest. -- his daughter gave me this rain. this is his family crest. this is the password. tavis: and you still are not done. you will live to be 101. >> 110. the doctor says if i lose this belly, about 33 pounds, and i do what they say, 5 b will be here
-- but they say i will be here until 110. we have nanotechnology. these are the future, mit, and nobel doctors. i am fortunate enough to be around all the time. i know keith black. i know what is coming. and, man, it is going to blow your mind. it is happening already. tavis: everything you do blows my mind. what he told me, "tavis, every day, with it like it is your last." -- live every day like it is your last." >> and one day it will be right. frank sinatra told me that. tavis: the new cd, "q: soul bossa nostra." who knew that austin powers was going to bring this back.
and it is back. >> it will go away. tavis: that is the new cd. and if you want to be a producer, read his book, "q on producing." q, i love you, and there is nothing you could do about it. >> god bless you. tavis: that is our show for tonight. until next time, good night from l.a., and as always, keep the faith. ♪ >> for more information on today's show, visit tavis smiley at pbs.org of his much talked-about film, "black swan." that is next time. we will see you then.
>> all i know is his name is james, and he needs extra help with his reading. >> i'm james. >> yes. >> to everyone making a difference, you help us all live better. >> nationwide insurance supports tavis smiley. with every question and answer, nationwide insurance is proud to join tavis in working to improve financial literacy and remove obstacles to economic empowerment one conversation at a time. nationwide is on your side. >> and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. [captioning made possible by kcet public television] captioned by the national captioning institute --www.ncicap.org--